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Government braced for major Tory rebellion over Huawei role in 5G network

2 min read

Tory MPs are set to stage a major rebellion against government plans to give Huawei a role in the development of the UK's new 5G network.

Up to 30 Conservative backbenchers are preparing to vote for moves to ban the Chinese telecoms firm's involvement by the end of 2022.

The vote, which is due to take place on Tuesday, is on an amendment to the Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill currently before Parliament.

Among those preparing to rebel are former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, and ex-Cabinet minister David Davis and Damian Green.

Boris Johnson announced in January that Huawei - which has been accused of working with the Chinese government - would have a non-core role in Britain's 5G supply.

That was despite fierce opposition from America, which has banned Huawei from its own network over security concerns.

Ministers have capped the company's involvement in the project at 35%, but the Tory rebels want that reduced to zero by 31 December, 2022.

In a bid to head off the rebellion, the Government organised a briefing for Tory MPs with security officials on Monday evening in an effort to convince them that Huawei does not pose a security risk to the UK.

With an 80-seat majority, it is highly unlikely that the Prime Minister will suffer his first Commons defeat since the general election.

But a major rebellion would still be an embarrassment for the Government so soon into the new Parliament.

Asked about the rebel amendment on Monday, a Dowing Street spokesman said: "We are clear-eyed about the challenges posed by Huawei, which is why we are banning them from sensitive and critical parts of the network and setting a strict 35% cap on market share,” he said.

"We will also keep that 35% market cap under review. We want to get to a position where we do not want to have to use a high-risk vendor in our telecoms network."

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